How can I ever being to explain how much I love knowing that God looks out for me and is aware of me?! Wow is all I can really say. Life is just wonderful!
Okay Mom, you asked me to tell you what I did for my birthday. So...the day started out very normal. Typical waking up well before the sun, studies, etc. You know, just the same old same old. We had to run to the chapel a bit later to go let the Nogent soeurs in, along with the nanny who cut our hair. (the trend is going around ha ha. Natalie agreed to cut their hair too that day.) Then on the way home we went and bought a couple pizzas for lunch. As we took that round about way to get home, somehow the topic came up of our last couple days in the "real world." So a bit later, after we'd finished lunch, and Soeur Barros went to take a nap, I worked a little bit on finishing up a tape I'd been meaning to send to you. That's where I got a bit trunky. I really think it's hugely to blame that I'd just spent the last 30-45 minutes talking about saying "goodbye" to you, but that coupled with the fact of knowing that this was the first birthday in 22 years that I wouldn't be spending with you really kind of increased the feeling. It was a good day. I was happy to be where I was, but I just missed having family with me. After finishing the tape, God and I had a bit of a chat. I just asked him to help me enjoy the moment and not be fixated on what I was "missing." But I told him, happy though I was, if I could change anything it would be to have my family with me. But, since that wasn't changeable at that time, just...help me not "survive" the day, but rather enjoy it. I mean hi, who gets to say that for their birthday they ran around Versailles France after all?! ha ha
Anyway, after my momentary homesick couple of minutes, Soeur Barros woke up and we went out to do some street contacting. We were even able to get in our second lesson of the day doing so. We talked to a man who used to be Christian, but currently believes that God is just a figment of our imagination. So...it wasn't the happiest lesson, but it was a lesson all the same. When we set goals, we can't always anticipate how, but God will help us achieve them.
After that was the more exciting part of the day that we'd both been looking forward to. We ended the day with a rendez-vous with Remy. Now, at the same time, as happy as I was to be seeing him, it had also been causing me the most anxiety. You know how much I just love being the center of attention...not. So knowing that he was planning...something, was causing me a bit of stress. But all the same, I was just flattered that he cared enough to do anything at all. So I was perfectly happy to go with a smile on my face and just play along. But...wow. He is such a good friend. I was absolutely floored with what he's put together. My head is still reeling.
We had told him the night before that we were struggling to find another sister to teach with us. (And boy were we! I swear we practically called or talked face-to-face with everyone imaginable, but to no avail.) Knowing the missionary rules better then we do, he knows very well that we can't enter his apartment without a third party. So when we showed up at his door and rang the sonnet, he answered with "Are you two or three tonight?" Getting the response all three of us had basically been expecting, that we were alone, he came down to join us. We found a bench just around the corner that was actually really nicely secluded for teaching a lesson. Sister Barros and I've used it before when we've gotten to the city he lives in a few minutes early. We'd normally sit on that bench for a couple of minutes until it was actually time for the rendez-vous. But, I'd never thought to use if for a lesson. It was kind of perfect. And it has an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. Yet again, my life is pretty enchanting. =)
As we finished the lesson, he said, "I know you can't come in, but I have something in my apartment for you. Can you just come to the door and I'll bring it down." As we rounded the corner, Nicole, an absolutely adorable young single adult that we have had come with us when we taught Remy, was standing there. She'd just gotten off work and came straight over (part of Rémy's plan.) He grinned at me and said, "Now there are three of you. So you can come upstairs." Soeur Barros knew that Rémy was planning on inviting Nicole so that we'd still be able to go inside and eat some sort of cake or pie that he planned to make. But both of us were shocked when we walked in and all of the office elders were in his apartment. As expected, hidden behind a door with the light turned off, once opened, they all jumped up, shouted "Surprise" and sang "Happy Birthday." Caught off guard as I was, it was an amazing experience. Not because I just love having the entire focus of the room on me or anything like that, but because in that moment and throughout the rest of the evening, I repeatedly felt the love of my Heavenly Father and realized, the one thing I was certain couldn't be changed about that day, was. Granted, the three of you weren't there. But the overwhelming feeling came over me that, I had a family with me. Cool, huh? God cares about even little things like birthdays. =) I couldn't have asked for a better night. It was so wonderful. And Rémy had gone all out. He bought drinks, made guacamole, cubed cheese, and made these things called "blinis" that very much resemble miniature pancakes. The blinis were used like James uses the rings of bread in his hors d'oeuvres. He had smoked salmon, caviar type stuff, three cakes, the works. He said he'd stayed up until one in the morning cooking and then finished up during his lunch break. It was the first surprise party Rémy has ever planned, but it was the classiest birthday party I've ever been to. He really put his whole heart into it. Like I said...I was just floored.
I went home from that just in shock. It was just so...perfect. How could Rémy have known that apparently the one thing I "needed" was exactly what he did in bringing that group together? Especially since I didn't even realize that need within myself until I was at the party.
We had another lesson with him last night. (He even ended up being our joint teach at a lesson with an inactive member right after that ha ha) Before our lesson he handed me a folded up piece of paper and told me that there were things he wanted to tell me on Monday night but didn't get the chance. So he'd typed them up. In this letter he'd written me he explained that he knew I wasn't a fan of being the center of attention. But he still had wanted to do something for me. So he'd planned on Soeur Barros, myself, himself, and some sister from the ward sharing a cake after a rendez-vous. Simple. But then, feeling like there was something more, he prayed and asked God what I needed. And he got the answer "It'll be better if all the Elders are there." So he went to work. He walked up to them at church, handed them maps, codes to his apartment complex, the key to his front door, everything. The elders were super surprised by the meticulous detail he'd put into it. When they got to his room there was a sign on the door that said "This is it."
Seriously, every elder in our district is now just in love with how awesome this kid is ha ha. But, back on topic, as I said, I was stunned all night long after getting home Monday. It was just...perfect. And just as that amazement was starting to fade a bit, Rémy let me understand why. He prayed. God answered. He listened. He acted. And then he became the tool in God's hands that I needed that day. It's just a miracle to me that God cares so very much about us. And he totally takes care of us. I just can't wrap my head around the personal miracle I got that night. And Rémy played such a major role, all because of his humility, sincerity and willingness to listen to the spirit.
All in all, no matter how many years pass away, that was a day I will never forget. I couldn't if I tried. =)
I'd love to tell you more about the week, but I've got to run off to a rendez-vous. But, until next week, know that I love you and pray for you all the time. Have a wonderful week!